June 6, 2019 - President Trump’s recent executive orders call for nothing short of a full pedal-to-the-metal approach for ramping up oil and gas pipeline construction and other infrastructure throughout the United States. But there’s more to it than that. One section of the executive order is particularly noteworthy for the Appalachian region, and it’s not being talked about enough.
Section 9 of President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth calls for a report on how the energy industry and other sectors can boost economic growth in the Appalachian region. President Trump wants this report on his desk in six months.
That means that for the next several months, the Department of Energy will be hungry for ideas that use the energy industry to strengthen the economy stretching from northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia to southern New York. Specifically, the Trump administration wants methods for “growth of petrochemical and other industries” and “diversifying the Appalachian economy and promoting workforce development.”
A Chance for Every Sector to Get in on the Boom
Much of the focus of Trump’s executive orders have been on streamlining the pipeline approval process to allow for the distribution of these so-called “molecules of U.S. freedom.” Rightfully so – the oil and gas industry have made unparalleled strides in the last few years and have largely brought the entire U.S. energy industry along for the ride.
Yet in getting this newfound abundance of energy to market, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the entire energy industry. Even among record-breaking growth, things like regulatory uncertainty, environmentalist interference and bureaucratic delays have derailed pipeline projects and curbed the potential impact of increased production. President Trump’s executive order charts a course toward faster pipeline approvals and an energy infrastructure that meets growing demand.
At the same time, energy sectors outside of oil and gas have faced challenges in recent years. In Appalachia, coal is a logical focus and a sector that has come “back from the dead” in recent years after considerable challenges. The rise and subsequent fall of nuclear energy in states like Pennsylvania show some energy markets are struggling to find a place even among the current boom.
This executive order highlights the Trump administration’s eagerness to use all corners of the energy industry to spur economic growth, and right now sights are set on Appalachia.
The Edge: Now is the Time to Explore New Projects in Appalachia
This executive order is a win-win for the energy industry – more pipelines and an open call for more federally supported economic growth in the industry are welcome news. But let’s not forget – it’s a win-win for consumers, too. Residents around the nation are benefitting from access to affordable energy and an energy sector that’s driving new jobs, industry innovations and economic growth.
In the booming energy industry, President Trump sees a rising tide that lifts all ships. And that opportunity is tremendous.
There’s opportunity for all types of players in the energy industry and beyond to have their projects and initiatives become part of DOE’s report. There’s opportunity to get federal support in implementing advanced technologies such as combined heat and power. There’s opportunity for organizations currently operating in Appalachia or considering expanding into the region to explore the feasibility of new operations. Traditional petrochemical organizations are a natural fit, but renewables and a host of connected industries like manufacturing, municipalities, public utilities and universities can get in on the action, too. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.
But the time to act is now. DOE is likely already compiling the report and is on the hook to deliver it before the end of the year. The industry needs to take advantage.